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Challenging year for dairy farmers reflected in DairyCo Farmer Intentions Survey

DairyCo’s Farmer Intentions Survey results for 2013 reflect the challenging year experienced by dairy farmers across Great Britain, with a significant increase in the number of dairy farmers saying they are uncertain about the future.

Confidence levels have also dropped, although to a lesser degree than may have been expected. “The events of last year, particularly the weather, meant confidence levels were lower than in the previous survey,” says AHDB DairyCo senior analyst Patty Clayton. “In rating their confidence over the next 12 months, 43% of farmers returned a score of four or five [five being extremely confident]. The proportion returning these scores increased marginally to 46% for measuring confidence over the medium term (the next five years).”

Mrs Clayton highlights that while the weather was one of the top three factors affecting confidence over the next 12 months, it did not appear as a significant factor affecting confidence over the next 5 years.

The strong sense of uncertainty that emanated from the survey responses this year was reflected in dairy farmers’ production and investment intentions.

“There was a noticeable increase in the proportion of farmers who were undecided on production levels two years from now, up from 5% in 2012 to 13% this year,” says Mrs Clayton. “At the same time we haven’t seen a huge drop in the proportion of dairy farmers intending to increase production.”

The number of GB dairy farmers intending to increase production in the next two years was 32%, down from 36% in 2012. “An interesting feature of those who are expanding production is that they are more likely to have identified the global and domestic demand for dairy as major determinants of the future prospects for their business.”

Investment intentions also reflected the increased mood of uncertainty, with the proportion of farmers undecided on investment plans for the next five years up to 36% in this year’s survey compared to 12% in 2012. There was also a marked reduction in the number of farmers intending to invest in their dairy business over next 5 years compared to last year. “However, those who are planning to invest indicated those plans were firm, so that the likelihood of that investment taking place would be high,” says Mrs Clayton.

The Farmer Intentions Survey 2013 can be downloaded from www.dairyco.org.uk.

 

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